In general, when we talk about stress, we tend to emphasize only the negative aspects of stress. That is, we tend to consider stress as a negative emotional result of our interaction with the environment. However, there is also the other side of this concept, positive stress. Stress can be seen as an adaptive and necessary characteristic for human beings and their proper development.
It is important to make a distinction between distress and eustress. Distress refers to the negative stress that derives from situations that have a strong impact on the person, for example, a situation of occupational burnout or the death of a family member. On the other hand, when we speak of eustress we are referring to a type of stress that we could call positive or adaptive, for example, stress prior to a job interview or an exam.
Eustress or positive stress
Eustress is a positive feeling or state that stimulates and motivates people to face situations that require adaptation or coping. In general, stress is necessary for our day to day life, thanks to it we are able to get up and go to work, study or just take a walk. The problem occurs when positive stress turns into negative stress due to a lack of ability to manage it properly.
When we are able to properly manage stress, we increase our energy levels and health, our productivity, creativity, reflexes, proactivity and, above all, our emotional stability, since emotional management allows us to be less vulnerable to stress.
So how can we avoid stress or turn it into positive stress? Some studies have shown that the following strategies can be of great help:
- Incorporate physical and mental relaxation exercises (meditation, Mindfullnes or sport).
- Acquire healthy eating habits. A healthy and balanced diet is essential for good emotional stability.
- Set realistic goals in relation to your current capabilities. As you acquire knowledge and skills your self-confidence levels will improve and your stress will be reduced.
- Listen to music regularly.
- Have a good sleep hygiene and sleep between 7-8 hours a day.
These are all environmental or personal factors that we can modify to reduce distress or increase eustress. However, we must also bear in mind that sensitivity to stress also has a strong genetic component. That is to say, there are people who are more easily able to avoid or reduce the impact of stress in their lives while enhancing and promoting their positive stress. Because of this, emotional regulation and cognitive coping techniques must be different for each person, and the techniques used must be different for each individual.